Following the unfortunate passing of 3SG Tan Mou Sheng last Friday – which, incidentally, was the fourth death of a Serviceman in five months (here) – I decided to drop the Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces an email to articulate my brief perspectives, as well as a recommendation. The email is reproduced in its entirety below.
Dear Sir / Madam,
Celebrating 45 Years Of National Service: Commemoration Of Men Who Have Lost Their Lives
1. This year, we celebrate 45 years of National Service. Against this background, the recent deaths of our Servicemen are certainly unfortunate, and I hope that the administration is sincerely doing its utmost to maintain higher standards of safety and medical strategies to give parents and Singaporeans the necessary assurance. One life lost is always one life too many.
2. I am writing in with a proposal for the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) to consider organising meaningful commemorative events this year, in honour of these Singaporean men who have died while serving their country.
Their sacrifices are reminders of the very same sacrifices that our Servicemen make on a day-to-day basis: their youth, assorted opportunity costs, bodies (taking into account physical injuries) et cetera. Their deaths remind us of the significance of national defence, and the risks that soldiers go through each and every day. More importantly, our remembrance of them would allow us to celebrate the wondrous contributions they have made throughout their lives, and how they have made a wonderful difference to the lives of their loved ones.
3. The nature of the events or commemoration, quite naturally, would have to be based on preferences expressed by the families (cognisant that some might prefer not to participate). These men deserve to be honoured, celebrated, remembered, and paid tribute to.
4. As we engage ourselves in a host of celebrative activities or festivities, I am convinced that such initiatives would bring about a balance to this anniversary (celebration and commemoration are not mutually exclusive), as we express our heartfelt appreciation to those who have died defending this peace that we might take for granted.
5. I would be more than willing to render any form of manpower or administrative assistance, if desired (and I believe many other Singaporeans – especially Servicemen – would be extremely forthcoming with their assistance).
Thank you for taking time to read this email, and for considering this proposal. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require more information or clarifications.
CFC (NS) Kwan Jin Yao